If you’re a fan of action movies, you must know the famous martial artist actor, Donnie Yen. Think of him as a more serious Jackie Chan, you know, without the over-the-top comedy vibe. By the way, do you all remember the time when these two martial artist icons went at it? Of course, Jackie Chan went about it with his usual comedic use of his environment, but as usual, it helped him win. Come on, who doesn’t love Jackie Chan?
Just watch the 2003 martial arts comedy action movie, Shanghai Knights. That’s when Jackie Chan was partners with Owen Wilson. A pretty unlikely partner, but remember, this was an action movie and Owen Wilson wasn’t a superb fighter in the movie. Honestly, he didn’t have to be, because he had Jackie Chan at his side. And in an unusual casting choice, Donnie Yen played the secondary antagonist, Wu Chow. Granted, this is when he was just starting to break into Hollywood, but I’m used to seeing him as the hero.
The time Donnie Yen had in Shanghai Knights was short, but boy, his fight scene with Jackie Chan was awesome. Obviously the two martial artist threw their fancy moves at each other, but the movie upped the ante by putting a gatling gun between them. While the villainous Wu Chow was trying to move and fire the gatling gun all at once, Jackie Chan’s character was constantly trying to move around it. Sounds like something no one can pull off, but this is Jackie Chan we’re talking about. Their epic and creative fight came to an end when Jackie Chan’s character killed Wu Chow with a rocket. Our boy Donnie Yen blew up. But hey, there’s no shame losing to the great Jackie Chan.
Now we should ask ourselves if Jackie Chan still has it, because he delivers on the action like no other. If you’ve seen the 2017 action movie, The Foreigner, you know he’s still got the moves. Granted, that movie was a more serious action movie that deviated from his over-the-top Jackie Chan-ish action style, but he still showed some impressive physicality for a man his age. You know who else can pull that off? A guy named Keanu Reeves.
The man showed his physical talents in The Matrix, and yeah, there was a lot of wirework involved. However, just take a look at his work in the John Wick trilogy and you’ll see that’s all him. Seriously, he was trained like a legitimate stuntman and put in a lot of hours training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo. And let’s face it, he’s no spring chicken, but that doesn’t stop him from moving like a BJJ black belt. Quite impressive for a man his age, just like Jackie Chan.
Speaking of which, it looks like John Wick 4 will include another famous action star. No, it’s not Jackie Chan. But hey, who’s to say he’ll never make an appearance in a future sequel? The action star I’m talking about is a man who lost to Jackie Chan in one of his movies, the equally iconic Donnie Yen. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This is some very exciting news, but having Donnie Yen involved is particularly awesome.
If you’re really not familiar with Donnie Yen, he’s one of Hong Kong’s top action stars. His most popular role by far is the famous Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man from the 2008 action movie. Yes, he played Bruce Lee’s first and most famous instructor from 2008 to 2019. For his most recurring role, he took on younger and more physically imposing men while emphasizing the importance of respecting traditional martial arts. His use of Wing Chun wasn’t his only skillset, however, as evident in his other movies.
Want another example? How about a more well-known movie where he played a blind martial artist armed with only a bo staff? He used it against squads of Stormtroopers firing laser guns at him. You ask me, he was one of the coolest things about Rogue One. That’s right, Donnie Yen is a part of the Star Wars universe and that’s awesome. And now, he can add another popular action franchise to his resume.
What will be the difference? Well, according to reports, Donnie Yen will be playing not a rival to John Wick, but an old ally. That probably means that John Wick will be seeking him out for help to fight the members of the high table because they have a history. Donnie Yen’s character will probably be just some former assassin who did jobs with John Wick and one of his many contacts. I mean, pretty much everybody knows who John Wick is at this point.
The difference between Donnie Yen and the other John Wick allies is simple: he’s Donnie Yen. Take the other actors who either fought with or against John Wick, such as Willem Dafoe and Common, and just try to compare their martial arts background with Donnie Yen’s. You can’t. You really just can’t, because the man has trained in many martial arts.
On top of having high level belts in Taekwondo, Judo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he has also won gold medals in Wushu. And of course, he also has extensive training in Wing Chun (he’s fictional Ip Man after all), along with Jeet Kune Do, Hapkido, and wrestling. Whereas Keanu Reeves and most of the other John Wick cast members had to train before they started shooting, Donnie Yen has been training in martial arts since he was young. That certainly counts for something.
The only question is, what kind of action can we expect from him in John Wick 4? Honestly, I would say just any kind. We’ve seen him do all kinds of fancy techniques from multiple arts. Give him a weapon and he can knock you out with it in several ways. Take the weapon away and he’ll do some fancy kick or quick chokehold to put you to sleep. If he’s fighting with John Wick, then he’s going to make for the ultimate ally. I can’t wait to see him.
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